Here we are at the first day of September. Summer has ended (although it’s rather sunshine-y at Gidday HQ today) and Autumn will start its annual pilgrimage across the northern hemisphere, creeping in with nippy mornings and shorter days. The leaves will…

…hang on. Stop right there. This is not meant to be a post about Autumn!

Take 2:

Here we are at the first day of September. And today is Father’s Day in Australia.

So in honour of celebrating the man that is my Dad and warm the cockles of your hearts, I though it was time to do a little roasting….Gidday-style.

Let’s start at…well, the start.  Here’s where it all began for us…

There’s an ‘okay now what do I do with this?’ look here.

But soon he got into the swing of things…blowing out candles (an important life skill even today)…

…and giving fatherly advice (while I practise my ‘whatever’ look).

The decades flashed by and a few years ago, Dad swapped the city for a life roaming around the countryside.

This was taken in New Zealand but I have seen many a similar picture of Dad-and-Stepmum in Down Under’s very own great outdoors.

His days now consist of travelling to outback properties and national parks around Australia, ‘homestead-sitting’, painting, mending fences – generally lending a hand wherever needed – and visiting family and friends, whether they may be other itinerants or those of more fixed abode. Dad even put his new-found construction skills to work at Christmas, stepping up to the challenge of making this for our Christmas Day host…

…and seemed rather pleased to consider some liquid refreshment after the big unveiling.

Dad’s also become quite the photographer and newsletters are often filled with amazing pictures of the local flora and fauna he finds on their travels. But it’s a dangerous job you know – not at all for the faint-hearted…
And nor has it been to have two rather independent and opinionated daughters living a few hours flight away for most of our lives. Which is why our recent frolicking about in old Melbourne Town last December was such a great testament to the passing of the years and the changes in our relationship…
…because growing up, I would never have credited Dad with photobombing! (By the way, that’s me on the left with Lil Chicky and the old man.)

So there’s only one thing left to do and that is to say Happy Father’s Day to my old man.

May you keep finding ways to surprise us all.

Father’s Days…Or Should That Be Daze?

Today we will be taking a little break from my recent travels to explore the concept of Father’s Day.

It’s been prompted by the fact that the UK and the US (and a lot of other countries apparently) celebrate today yet we Aussies wait until the first Sunday in September to pay tribute to the Old Man

It doesn’t even align with Mother’s Day, which we celebrate on the second Sunday in May (same as the US) almost 2 months later than here in the UK. It’s mighty confusing. And in pondering this very issue out loud with my hairdresser yesterday, I made a pledge (she did have scissors in her hand at the time) that getting to the bottom of this sticky question would be my priority for the remainder of the weekend.

Father’s Day is a relative newcomer to the ‘holiday’ calendar (although who gets a holiday?) first appearing in the USA 102 years ago when, following a sermon in Spokane in 1909, a young parishioner, who had lost her mother in 1898, asked for a way to honour her father. Originally suggesting her father’s birthday, the 5th June, the eventual date was set for 19th June 1910. And whilst Father’s Day was born, it took until 1972 for it to take hold when Lyndon Baynes-Johnson declared the third Sunday in June a national holiday.

The third Sunday in June is the Father’s Day of choice for many countries – USA, UK, India, Canada, China, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland and Turkey. But other countries choose different dates to honour fatherhood. Russia celebrated on 23rd February this year and Thailand will take its turn on the 5th December. Spain, Belgium and Italy celebrated on the 19th March, Germany on May 17th (always on Ascension Day the Thursday forty days after Easter) and Sweden will on the second Sunday in November. South Korea had Parent’s Day on the 8th of May (so one day for all parents instead of two separate days) and Brazil will celebrate the day of fathers on the second Sunday in August.

You can see why expat life can be very confusing.

For the record, Australia and New Zealand pay tribute honour make an effort on the first Sunday in September. I have googled and googled and there is nothing that tells me why this is – which makes for a rather uninteresting and pointless post. So I decided to look at what else happened on the 2nd September in the vain hope of finding something.  No cigar but here are a few of the more interesting things I found:

In 44BC Pharaoh Cleopatra VII of Egypt declared her son co-ruler as Ptolemy XV Caesarion.
In 911 Viking-monarch Oleg of Kiev-Russia signed a treaty with Byzantines
In 1666 the Great Fire of London began in Pudding Lane
In 1859 gas lighting was introduced to Hawaii
In 1929 Unilever was formed by merger of Margarine Union & Lever Bros
In 1945 Japan formally surrendered to the Allies, bringing an end to World War II
In 1969 the first ATM to be installed in America started dispensing cash at Chemical Bank in New York City.
In 1993 South Africa celebrated its Day of Peace

In 2003 it was happy 100th birthday to the Harley-Davidson motorcycle
And in 2011 Apple won in court in Dusseldorf banning the sale of the Samsung Galaxy Tablet in Germany   

And what about 2012?  Well, Venice (the one in Italy) will stage their annual regata storica parade as prelude to the regatta, Vietnam will celebrate its national day, the inaugural Poptronik Festival will take place in Sitges, Spain and the annual Butter Trail Run will be held at Tatamagouche, California.

In the UK, the Christchurch Medieval Festival in Co. Dorset happens over first weekend in September, the 22nd Stormin’ the Castle at Witton Castle, Co Durham will be winding down, while England and South Africa will play cricket at Lords and Olly Murs will play Chelmsford.

And at Gidday HQ, I’ll be wishing my Dad a Happy Father’s Day…again.

So to my old man, hope you have had a brilliant Father’s Day (in-waiting).

A Tale of Two Cities…

It’s official. Melbourne, my home town, is the world’s most livable city.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2011 Livability Ranking has placed Australia’s Melbourne city as the most livable city in the world, with a score of 97.5. Austria’s Vienna and Canada’s Vancouver were ranked on the second and third places respectively among 140 cities. Source:

For those of you who haven’t been to Melbourne and are wondering why it won, here are a few snaps from my trip last Christmas.

Melbourne City View from South Bank (January 2011)
Eureka Tower at South Bank – a new addition since my last visit
The Palais at St Kilda – and that’s Luna Park in the background
Mentone Beach – lying on a beach towel (it was 26C and deserted, far too cold for the locals!)

There were also a few fond memories that the locals are likely to appreciate a little more than your average tourist:

Hamer Hall? The Greatest Show On Earth?  What a tribute!
Love is in the Air – The Myer Melbourne Christmas Windows featured The Nutcracker Suite last year
The best chips on the planet (yes chips, not crisps..bloody Poms!) – Burger Rings and Twisties!

But those of you who read my meanderings regularly, or know me well, know how much I love London:

Harrods from the top deck of the number 14 bus, a regular drive-by after a night out on the town
Tower of London – it was just there for the taking
View of the Thames from Putney Bridge (from another bus)
Richmond Park – splendor in the grass and right next door
Another delicate sunset – from the front window of my flat
The ice and snow last December – from my (then) office building
Footprints in the snow – where I’ve been

So in the livability stakes, it’s a tale of two cities for me.

The first is the one left behind laced with nostalgic and happy rememberings. 

And the second is the one where I am quietly proud of the new life I have built for myself. The one where, despite it’s lower ranking, I feel like I’ve come home.

The Warrior Inside…

In catching up on some weekend newspaper reading this week, I was delighted to discover that the Hamer name is far-reaching…in fact much further reaching than I anticipated.

In The Times Magazine from two weeks ago, I came across this picture of a warrior from the Hamer tribe, one of the more successful tribes making their home in the Omo Valley in Ethiopia:

The men wear clay buns on their heads to signify that they have made a kill and a scar etched onto their chest for every life they’ve taken…this one’s obviously new to the warrior game!

And not to be outdone the women of the Hamer tribe “dye their hair red with ochre and wear intricately beaded clothing”…

They also wear rings around their necks when married (step up from the finger perhaps?) with the number of rings denoting their ranking as first, second, third wife to their polygamous husbands. This woman is a Wife No 2.

Hmmm I thought.  Not sure about that…polygamy and all those layers and repressive ‘signature’ jewellery.  I would rather just imagine ‘Mrs Hamer’ tripping barefoot down a theatrically dusty catwalk during London’s Fashion Week or maybe she could have a little sojourn Gok’s Fashion Fix to bring her out from the shadows of her warrior husband and to get her to ‘stop hiding under all those layers, girlfriend’.

Great hair though…